Yesterday I went on a trail hike expecting markers to help me navigate, but found none. As my dog and I began our trek, I discovered there were many trail lead offs into the woods. It seemed harmless to venture as I did not think we could get lost. I even let my dog choose a few times which way to go. After wandering around for close to an hour, I realized I had no idea where we were on the trail. We were lost. Some trail guide he was! (He was thinking the same thing about me!)
Fortunately for my pooch and I, I had added an app on my phone that had this trail listed. ("All Trails" for my fellow hikers). When the map came up, our location indicated we were somewhere in the middle, between the large loop paths, and the recommended path of travel. I was thankful for the compass (that little blue dot with the arrow on the red path) that was impeccably accurate to the position of my body. Within 30 minutes, we were safely back to our car.
Today, I was determined to walk this trail as intended. But this time, I started with the GPS. Many times I had to stop, position my body and find the right direction to move as with yesterday, there were many off shoots to take. Some steep up, some steep down and others to the left or right. Instincts didn't serve me (or my dog) well yesterday, so I relied on the GPS compass to guide me.
As we traveled along, we ran into narrow paths overgrown with nettles, blackberry and grass. Logically thinking, it seemed all wrong but the map and the compass indicated it was correct. We trudged on. At one point the compass directed us to descend a very steep path, straight down. That didn't match the trail difficulty level of "easy" on the description, so I chose a path less steep. After walking about 25 yards, the compass showed me off course. We backtracked and descended where the compass indicated. It was a little tenuous with a 100 lb dog pulling the leash and moving faster than my feet were comfortable with, but we safely made it. The compass was correct once again.
As we came closer to the other side of the loop on the map, we came upon a section on the trail with 3 options. Left, right or straight. They were close enough together that to determine the right one, I had to move slowly to find the right direction with the compass. My dog wanted to go left. The way right seemed more well worn (my instinctive choice) and the middle, a little over grown.
The compass indicated to take the middle path.
"There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death" - Proverbs 14:12
I think our Christian walk often seems confusing. We may get a vision from God (or our own thinking) for a direction in our life and as we set off on our journey, we can be uncertain as to which path to take. We may assume or hope that will run into navigation markers along the way. We may rely solely on our instincts or trust suggestions and advice from others for our next steps. Many times however, it is only after we feel disoriented, confused and lost, do we stop and ask God for directions.
The Holy Spirit is like a compass. Guiding us. Lighting the path. Directing our steps.
Today I started my trek with the GPS (as opposed to not using it yesterday). My dog often wanted to go a different path - didn't matter. Today, we stayed the course. I admit I ventured a few times using my logic when the path seemed confusing. But I didn't go far this time before returning to follow the compass. (and take in a few dirty looks of exasperation from my dog after my third oops).
Today's hike was enjoyable and peaceful. We walked into the unknown without fear of getting lost. We had a map and we had a compass. The only thing needed was to follow the directions.
This lesson in navigation today challenged me to ask where else in my life was I relying on instinct, advice or suggestions instead of consulting the map (God) and the compass (the Holy Spirit)?
To navigate life successfully, we must keep close to God for direction and the Holy Spirit for walking the path. Neither will ever fail us.
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. - Psalm 121:3
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. - Psalm 119:105
Don't forget to pick up a copy of my book, "Confessions of a Feel Good Addict"
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